Kibbutz Blog Week 1
February 27th, 23:53
We arrived at our kibbutz, Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, in the middle of the day on Wednesday, February 2, 2011. Before we had left for tiyul we had chosen who our roommates would be for second semester, and I had chosen to continue living with Lauren, while our third roommate, Zoe, moved to room with other girls on our track. Lauren, Zoe and I got along really well first semester and considered staying altogether for the second semester, which really shows how well Yossi must have done with the rooming ;) In fact, 4 out of the 5 second semester Kibbutz girls’ rooms are comprised of first semester roommates. It made it easier if we stayed together, and we all knew our roommates and felt comfortable with them already. On Thursday and Friday, we went shopping to buy the necessary items for our room, including extra storage and rugs. Then we all spent Shabbat on the Kibbutz. We had private services which we lead, and ate our meals in the Heder Ochel (the communal eating room). We played Shabbat friendly games (I learned how to play Spades, which I really like) and took a Shabbat nap. I lead Hallel and read Torah at mincha. For Shabbat lunch, I met my host family, the Eliavs, who spoke to me in Hebrew and we had a nice time, and I look forward to spending more time with them. They have seven children, I think, and the two youngest are close to my age. I look forward to continuing to speak Hebrew with them. Then Sunday morning we began our work on the Kibbutz. Sarah Lesser and I were assigned to work in the Machson Begadim, the laundry room, folding clothes. On kibbutz, everyone writes their personal number on all of their clothes, and then the clothes are washed communally and then (along with the Kibbutz ladies) it is Sarah and my job to fold the clothes with the numbers facing out so that they can be returned to the owners. Any clothes where the number cannot be found are donated to charity. It was a balagan (mess) trying to help all the Nativers work out the system of doing all their laundry, but I think we will get better now that we understand the process. I am a little worried because folding the sheets, towels and clothes in the laundry room for 24 hours a week could easily get boring, and I could easily got frustrated with Sarah, but for now I am enjoying it, and I am enjoying speaking in Hebrew with the ladies we work with. I do think that my Hebrew is improving. On Tuesday, we learned about Yom Nativ (which I will explain with examples later) and many of my friends went to Jerusalem but I stayed on the kibbutz and went running and caught up on some things. They told us that kibbutz life would be relaxing, but I have still felt relatively busy here which I guess is just adjusting and settling in busyness. I have been running or doing physical activity everyday, which has been great and I look forward to getting really in shape this semester, and really good at folding laundry!
Although we headed out a little late for our tiyul on Thursday, we were still able to hike in Har Yishal and Nahal David in Ein Gedi. I chose to do all of the hard hikes on tiyul to challenge myself and to work up a sweat. The first 20 minutes of this hike, and of most of the other hikes, made me reconsider my choices but the spectacular views made all of the hard hikes extremely worth it. My favorite wasthe interesting rock climbing and strategic maneuvering that we needed on that first hike. It made me feel accomplished like a kindergardener successfully navigating a playground. It was so much fun! We ate lunch on rocks, peed behind bushes, tried to climb up natural slides... experiencing the wonders of the desert. We then got to do camels at Kfar Hanokdim and have a bonfire and drink their awesome tea. it wasn't the best night sleep, but I always love the experience of the Bedouin tent.
On Friday I did the hard hike again where we played contact and I learned how to play GHOST. I loved the bonding that you get from hiking with friends, although it was made hard knowing that I only had a few more days together with the whole group. Then we got to Kibbutz Ketura and we got ready for Shabbat. I stayed in a room with Becca, Tali Marcus, and Gil. Everyone was very much done with dealing with rooming problems, and was very agreeable in their roomings for Ketura. KabShab and dinner on the kibbutz were great and I spent most of the night with my friend Sam who taught me Musaf so that I could lead the next day. (I really miss Sam a lot.)
Saturday morning I lead Musaf for the last Shabbos with the whole group together before we split up for our second semester placements. I had never lead it before, and really enjoyed learning it and choosing the tunes for the group to sing (have I mentioned that we sound awesome when we pray as a group? and we still sound amazing even when it's just us kibbutzniks singing.) Then after havdallah, I played soccer with nativers and some kibbutzniks. I hadn't done any running literally since softball season, and I almost felt nauseas after running for 5 minutes, but it has motivated me to run since I have been on kibbutz now, because I know that I need to get back into shape.
Monday i did the hard hike again and then we went to Eilat and did a Disco Boat at night. We danced and partied and then got to go out at night. I went shopping on the Eilat boardwalk and got a purse, shoes and a dress. I've been using/ wearing them constantly.
Tuesday was the hardest hike of them all, but I still did it, and we were able to see 4 countries from the top of the mountain. I got better at GHOST and learned a game similar to mastermind but with words, that might possibly be my new favorite game (although I am also starting to like playing Spades). In the afternoon we went tubing, which was amazing despite the rain and cold air. I really really enjoyed it. Then at night we went out in Eilat and some friends and I went back to the beach.
It was sad on Wednesday when we had to separate the groups for second semester, knowing that it would be difficult to see each other when the locations are so spread out across the country, but I knew that I would be able to keep in touch with the people i was friends with, and I was looking forward to starting my life on kibbutz.=
Nativ Week 11
This week has been on the slower side, and therefore I ended up spending a lot of money to keep my life interesting, which probably wasn't the best idea. I have still only tried a fraction of the restaurants in Jerusalem, but I have found some great places to eat.
In addition to that this week, I worked on another Alick paper, and had a Hebrew midtermwhich I did pretty well on, and an Arabic test which I also did pretty well on. Thursday was my favorite day of the past couple weeks... In Evolutionary Psychology we went to the Biblical Zoo, which had really interesting animals. (My group did a report on the Siamangs, and our animals were mating during our presentation, so no one really paid attention to what we were saying.) Then I went to Japanika for my friend's birthday. Then I went to see Harry Potter at night, many many hours before my friends in America would see it :P (Generally movies come out later in Israel then in America, but we got Harry Potter 17 hours before the East Coast.) Harry Potter was amazing!!! I screamed and laughed and cried and just thoroughly loved it. (Stalk the pictures on facebook.) I'll be sad when part 2 comes out because that will mean that it's really over- this phenomenon of new Harry coming out- that I have had throughout my entire life. Then I met up again with my friends and the group that was celebrating the birthday and we went out together.
For Shabbat, I stayed in Jerusalem. For KabShab, I went with friends to Yakar, which was nice, but we had to stand the whole time because there weren't enough chairs. We stayed after the service and asked to find a host for dinner. This family invited Sarah, Halli and me to have dinner with them and to celebrate the son's birthday. The family was very talkative and spoke in Hebrew, French and English throughout the whole meal, so we were a little bit overwhelmed, but it was a typical Israeli meal. Then Halli thought that she recognized the building as a place where her friend lived, so we went upstairs, and sure enough, we saw her friend. We walked around with him and met up with his other friends. This is typical Israeli culture, that people are welcoming and invite strangers to their house for a Shabbat meal, and then you walk around at night and go from house to house hanging out with people. Not once do any of these people use electronics, and text each other to say they are coming over, or anything, they are very laid back and just show up at each other's apartments. Saturday morning Sarah and I went to Yemin Moshe, both Sephardic and Ashkenazic, and they had a lovely Kiddush at both. We relaxed in the afternoon, and motzi shabbos I went back to working on the Thanksgiving video that I've been making that will be shown at our Thanksgiving dinner with all of the Nativ alumni and parents that are currently in Israel. ( http://www.youtube.com/user/nativmaster#p/u/0/Stna1NVFWZU )
I'm looking forward to having Thanksgiving here. It will be nice to have a fancy dinner altogether and to show everyone the video that I've been working on with my friends to present to the alumni. I thought that it would be hard to be away from home for this holiday and others, but I haven't found it to be a problem. We're all in the same boat here, and Nativ plans stuff so that we will all be busy and having fun for the holidays. After dinner, we're going to watch all of the Friends Thanksgiving episodes, and the boys are playing Thanksgiving Day football, and some people are going to watch the parade (while I'm still in class, though, since we don't get off school for Thanksgiving).
Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family at home!
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Nativ Week 10
Wow, I can't believe that I've been here for 10 weeks, and we are in the midterms week at Hebrew University. I have definitely gotten to the point where I feel at home here, where I can switch into Hebrew mode pretty easily and where I have my routine and my friends set. Did I tell you that I even had a dream in Hebrew? I can't remember where I left off. We had a meeting with a representative from AIPAC, that was part of my big learning-about-politics week. And it was really interesting. I've been working on a video for Thanksgiving here. All of the Nativ alumni that are in Israel are invited to attend this Thanksgiving dinner here at Fuchsberg and we have to make a video for them to show them what Nativ is like now. So I have been going around interviewing people and videotaping the different activities Nativ offers. For example, the program that I do on Sunday nights that prepares us to be Jewish Educators, watching Israeli movies or Disney movies in Hebrew on Monday nights, Erev Nativ (group bonding activities) on Tuesday nights, Beit Midrash (Torah study and pizza) and an arts program on Wednesday nights, and Cafe Ivrit (speaking Hebrew together in a cafe) on Thursday nights. Other activities that I don't participate in include Girls' football, Boys' basketball, the play, and an acapella choir. But we are hoping to include all of those activities in the video.
My week was pretty uneventful. I am writing another paper, and I had a Hebrew midterm this morning that I think went well. I saw Erin Beser on Wednesday, she is teaching at our Beit Midrash thing here at Nativ. I was so excited to see her, and she told me about a place where I can do Israeli Folk Dancing while I'm here, which is really exciting to me, and I'm hoping to go there with her sometime soon.
This weekend everyone on the Kibbutz track went to Modiin where we stayed with host families. Sarah and I were hosted together (making this the 5th weekend that we've spent together in a row). But it made sense for us to be together, because we both know Hebrew and our host family spoke very little English. I mostly spoke with the daughters while we were with them, and we only spoke in Hebrew, which was a great experience. Sarah and I also experienced again the Israeli teen culture of hanging out in the park after Shabbat dinner. I've started reading the book The Help, which I'm really enjoying. Actually, a French girl from my Hebrew and Arabic classes gave it to me.
Yesterday I was sick for the first time since I've been on Nativ. I ate something that I don't usually eat for breakfast, and I think it made my stomach uneasy. I was uncomfortable all through my morning classes, and when I came back to my room in the afternoon, I threw up. I felt awful, but everyone here was really supportive and helpful. People stayed in my room with me for the rest of the day, and offered to get me water or soda to calm my stomach and everyone asked me how I was doing. It definitely shows the feeling of community within Nativ, and the feelings of responsibility towards each other that everyone was so caring towards me. Then I took my Hebrew midterm today even though I still wasn't feeling 100% and I'm just going to continue going to sleep early these next couple nights.
I'm hoping to go to Ashkelon this coming weekend, and I'm looking forward to Erev Nativ tonight, because I think that we are traveling around Jerusalem, and I'm looking forward to finishing this video for Thanksgiving and having Thanksgiving here.
Last weekend we had a seminar on Conservative Judaism that made me think about what it means to me to be a Conservative Jew. Jules Gutin came to talk to us and he explained that Conservative Judaism still means following all of the rules of Halacha, the laws of Classical Judaism,
but that some changes have been made to adapt to modern times. (Similar to the paper that I wrote on Modern Orthodoxy that then got sent out to a lot of you readers.) Studying about Conservative Judaism and Modern Orthodoxy has made me reflect on my Jewish experiences growing up. I never really felt a connection to Beth Shalom or Beth Tfiloh when we went there for services. When I first realized that this week I began to question if that meant that I wasn’t connected to my Judaism at that point. But then I confirmed that my biggest connection to my Judaism was ALWAYS through Schechter and Cardin. Those were the places where I felt most comfortable mostly because they were the places where we discussed the purpose of our Jewish practices and where Judaism made sense. Especially through Cardin’s pluralism I could see the different perspectives of Judaism so now when we focused on the Conservative aspect I definitely feel like that is where I am most comfortable. I also know that I have enough knowledge of the other options to know that I am making an informed decision.
After the Conservative Judaism seminar, we had a regular week of school. Monday night was the Idan Raichel Concert with MASA, so over 3000 people on programs like mine came together in Jerusalem for a discussion about how Israel has changed people’s lives and for a live concert. It was a lot of fun! I saw Yoella and a few others that I knew while I was there. Also on Monday, I spent time with Caryn and Ted Andrews and the Friedmans in Jerusalem. While I was with them I found out that my cousin, Dina, was in Israel. Then Monday night at SuperSol across from my base I saw her after the concert. So that was very strange, and I definitely want to see her again while I’m here.
Tuesday night we had a lipsync contest for all of the kids on the Kibbutz track with me (the ones that are going to the Kibbutz for the second semester). The contest was by rooms, and my roommates and I worked really hard on an awesome dance and won for the girls!
Nativ- Week 7
October 24th, 9:32
I officially chose my classes!
I was in a graduate level class of Hebrew Gimmel because I wanted to be in the intensive class that finished the level, but then the class was too big. So tomorrow I will start in the undergraduate class, but I will be in a special class that will still be able to finish the level, just with a little extra work. I really liked the diversity of the people in my Hebrew class, because they were all from different countries, and I really liked the teacher, so I hope that my new class is just as interesting and good. --> I am now writing this a few days later, and I started the new Hebrew class, and I like the intensive program with this class better because although it will involve more reading and writing at home, we will have more discussions in class, because it’s a smaller class. This was one of the important things I was looking for in coming to Israel.
I was in a combined graduate and undergraduate class for Arabic, but now they are separating the graduates and undergraduates, since that was also too big of a class. So I also don’t know what that class will be like, and who my teacher will be. At this point, I don’t even know if I can take the class, because they are thinking of changing the time of the class to a time when I cannot do it. But I have liked it so far. It is similar to Hebrew, and fun to compare it.
Alick Isaacs’ class, The Post Modern Reading of Modern Jewish History, continues to be a highlight of my week as we search to find the conflicted Jewish identity in the Enlightened Period.
So that last post was from Sunday night, after my first day of school. Then we had school on Monday, and Tuesday. I’m not going to lie, I had trouble keeping my eyes open in the Israeli Society class and Jerusalem class. It has been so different to be in classes with 20-40 people where I am not totally participating the whole time, and it is lecture style. That was not my experience at Cardin at all. And I definitely prefer the Cardin-class-style better. Also, both classes involve a lot of history, which is not my favorite. But I only have these classes until after Sukkot, and then I start my real classes, so hopefully I won’t take two history classes for the real semester. My text class is amazing though. It’s my smallest class, with 20 people, and somewhat participatory, but the teacher is the best part. Dr. Alick Isaacs totally makes us think and gives us new ideas on how to read the text. Ahh, love him a lot. Oh, and I like my madrichim, Maya and Aviv. And some of my friends said that they saw Adin Rodman (my madrich from the Cardin Senior trip) on the first day of Rosh Hashana, so I’m hoping that I will get to see him soon. Rachel (my tour guide from the Cardin Senior trip) called me the other day and we are hoping to hang out soon. I’ve also run into Micah Lehman and Brooke Prince on Ben Yehuda St.
We did Erev Rosh Hashana here at Beit Nativ and then for the first morning of Rosh Hashana we went to Talpiyot. We were hosted at Mayanot and then we went back to a family’s house for lunch. It was nice to speak in Hebrew with a family and to have a home cooked meal. Then on the second day of Rosh Hashana I went to Shira Chadasha, which is an egalitarian Orthodox synagogue with a lot of beautiful singing. For both of those services, I actually stayed and prayed the whole time, which I had never done before. We then went to more services Friday night and Saturday for Shabbat. Some friends and I went to Yedidyah Shabbos morning and found a host for lunch who was actually from Baltimore originally.